Monitoring Your Credit Report For Free
You will hear about how important it is to monitor your credit report, and that is true, sound advice. Monitoring your credit report is important both to catch identity theft earlier and to make sure there are no mistakes. Mistakes include not just incorrect information about whether a payment was late or not, but also errors in personal information or even having something on your report that applies to another person.
Recent laws have forced the credit companies to allow you to view your credit report for free once per year. Although the 3 reports can vary depending on who reports what information to which companies, the majority of your major events will be on all three reports. Also, since identity thieves don't open just one credit card and slowly and quietly use it, if your identity has been compromised it will show up on all three reports even if one or two of the many accounts that are opened in your name don't appear on all three. This knowledge allows you to monitor your credit on an ongoing basis for free without having to subscribe to some pay service. ONLY USE www.annualcreditreport.com to order your free reports. Anything else is a trick to get you to subscribe to overpriced (and if you follow the tips here at Finance Gourmet) and unnecessary monitoring services.
Because all three companies are required to give you a free report every 12 months, you can check your credit for free every four months by rotating among the credit bureaus. If you request a report from Equifax in January, you can request a report from TransUnion in May, request your free report from Experian in September, and do it all again the next year by requesting your free report from Equifax in January. If you are married and most of your credit is joint credit, you can monitor even more frequently. Because the information on joint accounts is reported under both social security numbers you can monitor the bulk of your credit by alternating reports ever TWO months! You request your report from Equifax in January, your spouses report from Experian in March, your report from TransUnion in May, your spouse's report from Equifax in July, and so on through the year.